Less than 4% of U.S. Churches Reproduce
Rethinking Healthy Growth
Our addition growth strategies can take our eyes off of Jesus as our zeal for “doing” things that create momentum and growth for Jesus distracts us from actually helping people “become” more like Jesus. When growth strategies and the resulting impact become our measure of success rather than making fully devoted followers of Jesus, we make cultural Christians who consume rather than Biblical disciples who reproduce and make disciples. We grow numerically, but we don’t multiply and send disciples. We neuter the very mechanism for multiplication that Jesus embedded in our DNA. It’s time to rethink our definition of healthy growth. Having less than 4% of U.S. churches reproducing is a direct consequence of a prevailing operating system that is not producing Biblical disciples who make disciples.
Healthy growth is found at the intersection of biblical disciple making and balanced church capacity building. Becoming Five seeks to create a new vocabulary and champion a new scorecard for healthy Kingdom growth. A framework aimed at helping move the needle from less than 4% of U.S. churches reproducing to greater than 10%! The framework helps churches look at their approach to building capacity. Are they focusing exclusively on building local capacity or do they have a balanced approach to creating both local and global capacity?
The FREE eBook Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church Field Guide provides a more detailed framework for healthy Kingdom growth and the basis for the Becoming Five Assessment Tool. Consider downloading and reading it.
5 Levels of Multiplication
A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation. Most of the 350,000+ churches in the U.S. experience one of the following three cultures: Subtracting (survival), Adding (growth) or Multiplying (movement). Each of these cultures has unique distinctives that shape its member’s thinking, its leader’s decision making, and the norms of behavior.
Levels of Church Multiplication
In practice, there is an overlap and blending between these cultures; they are not completely isolated and distinct from one another. For example, plateaued churches are caught in tension between survival and growth (- and +), and reproducing churches are in tension between growth and movement (+ and x). The three cultures overlap in a way to create five distinct profiles for churches.
Leve1 :: Subtracting // Level 2 :: Plateauing // Level 3 :: Adding
Level 4 :: Reproducing // Level 5 :: Multiplying
The Becoming Five assessment tool is built on detailed descriptive profiles of each of these five levels of multiplication! The assessment questions are designed to link self-identified behaviors with the applicable multiplication profiles. The assessment tool integrates the church’s responses into an aggregated score that reflects their multiplication profile.
3 Dimensions of View
Past – Current – Future
The past informs our current reality, and our current reality informs our future. Each of these three dimensions–past, current, and future–are needed to more fully characterize our multiplication culture. Think of each dimension as a lens that provides increased understanding. The Becoming Five assessment tool looks at these three lenses independently and in aggregation. Participating churches answer three groups of questions corresponding to their past, current, and future multiplication behaviors. Established churches (3+ years of age) use all three lenses (past, present and future). Churches 1 to 3 years of age use two lenses (present and future), and new churches use only the future lens.
7 Core Pathways
The Becoming Five assessment looks at three different perspectives: past, present, and future. Each perspective is independently scored relative to the five levels of multiplication, and a unique three digit score or pattern is assigned (e.g. 1-1-5, 3-4-5). There are 125 different possible patterns between 1-1-1 and 5-5-5. However, many of these patterns such as 5-1-1 are meaningless and are not included in the core patterns. The net result is seven key or core patterns that most churches will test into. Patterns are useful by giving us a snapshot of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’d like to go. The Becoming Five resource library will be expanded to link recommended resources to each specific pattern., thereby equipping churches to lean into their future aspirations.
Making it Personal
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”
― Peter F. Drucker
The Importance of Intentionality
With 96% to 99% of U.S. churches in Levels 1 – 3, the journey to Levels 4 and 5 takes intentionality, courage, and discipline. We must embrace new values and scorecards, acknowledging that the priorities and behaviors that put us on the list of largest and fastest growing churches also constrain us to Level 3.
We must redefine success based on Levels 4 and 5, learning to shift our focus from attracting and accumulating to releasing and sending.
Becoming Five, via participating networks, denominations, and ministries, seeks build a growing library of resources on multiplication to equip leaders based on their unique Becoming Five pattern. As a community of like-minded leaders and ministries, we are journeying together to move the scorecard from less than 1% of U.S. churches reproducing to greater than 10%!
Moving from Good Intentions to Results and Impact
As we build this new resource library together to equip one another, here are a few suggested immediate actions to consider:
- Read the FREE eBooks Spark and Becoming Five
- Have key members of your team independently take the Becoming Five Assessment. Working through the questions exposes leaders to the success behaviors of multiplying churches.
- Develop an initial “My Multiplication Plan (MMP)“. Putting your initial commitments down on paper is a strong first step in shifting your behaviors and bringing other people on your team along for the journey.
- Attend Exponential 2016. Choose Exponential East (April in Orlando FL) or Exponential West (October in Southern CA). The theme is Becoming Five. We will focus on the tensions to manage in moving to Levels 4 and 5.
New resources will continue to be added over coming months to help equip you in your plans for becoming a Level 5 multiplying church.
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uniting on church multiplication
A growing number of national networks, denominations, and ministries are embracing the simple language and framework of Becoming Five. These ministries encourage their leaders to take the free online assessment. Ministries have the option of embedding the assessment on their web sites.
- New Thing Network
- Summit Network
- Converge Worldwide
- Asbury Seminary
- Wesleyan Church (Nitrogen Network)
- Evangelical Free Church of America
- Multisite Solutions
- CityReach Network
- Church Planting Canada
- Greenhouse Movement
- Evangelical Friends Church
- Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
- KNCSB Church Planting
- Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
- Liberty Church Network
- Send Network (NAMB)
- Church Multiplication Network (Assemblies of God)
- Houston Church Planting Network
- 21st Century Strategies
- Passion for Planting
- Healthy Growing Churches
- Baptist Missionary Association (BMA)
- Church of the Nazarene
- Ignite Church Planting
- Church Multiplication Training Center
- Regenerant Network
- Ambassador Network
- National Association of Congregational Christian Churches
- Nexus Church Planting
- Lifeway / NewChurches.com
- Evangelical Covenant Church
- Mission OC
- Christ Together
- Orchard Group
- The United Methodist Church (Path 1)
- Titus Church Planting and Multiplication
- International Pentecostal Holiness Church
- Seventh Day Baptists
- CREO Collective
- Center for US Missions
- The Alliance
- Northwest Church Planting
- Sticks Network
- Kairos Church Planting
What Others Are Saying
Ed StetzerExecutive Director / Lifeway Research
My hope is that people will ask questions and that at the end of the day, will conclude they want to become a level five multiplying church
Dave FergusonFounder / New Thing Network
I dream every day about what it will take to see the percentage of churches who are reproducing in the US move from less than 4% to greater than 10%. Becoming Five gives language to the pathway.
Jeff ChristophersonVice President Send Network / NAMB
Becoming Five is a strong tool to help the evangelical church realign herself back to her eternal design of selfless Kingdom engagement. The only hope for Western Christianity is found within biblical recalibrations such as this.
J.D. GreearFounder / Summit Network
We need to move the scorecard away from seating capacity as our measure of success and toward sending capacity
Bob RobertsFounder / Glocalnet
We will not have a movement until we all become fives. The question is not ‘how big of a church can you grow?’ The questions is ‘how much can you multiply?
Mac LakeChief Launch Officer / Multiply Group
Language creates culture and Becoming Five is going to bring us together in using a common language so that we can shape the multiplying culture of churches.
Chris LagerlofFounder / Mission Orange County
I think Becoming Five will shape the church of the future.
Jim TomberlinFounder / MultiSite Solutions
Multisite changed how we think and do church. Now it’s time to change how we think and do multisite. Multisite cracked the door towards true multiplication and movement. Becoming 5 is the tool that will bust the multiplication door wide-open.